It’s possible to earn a living by screaming “Die!” into a headset while blasting digital opponents away.
Don’t believe me?
It’s true. Professional gamers around the globe are treating games like DOTA 2, Halo, and Counterstrike as their full time profession. They train for them like professional athletes...only way more sedentary. Hence the moniker “e-sports”. These are “electronic” athletes. What they lack in muscle, cardiovascular endurance, and vertical leap they make up for in lightning fast reflexes, expert knowledge of their game, and creative strategies.
It’s every teenage boy’s dream to get paid to play video games all day. Instead of having to fight with your parents to play just one more hour of Counter Strike with your friends, imagine waking up and treating it like a full-time job?
Video games were once purely entertainment, and competitions were mainly for bragging rights and online reputations that didn’t necessarily translate into reality. But now, with tournaments offering prize packages sometimes as large as $10 million, it is now serious business.
Take for example “The International”. This is the massive DOTA 2 Tournament hosted every year by Valve, creator of many of the top PC Games in the video game world. This is the largest tournament in “e-sports” history to date, and it will be held in Seattle’s 17,000 seat Key Arena. The prize pool of of $10.5 million includes a first place prize of $4.8 million.
You read that right...some team of gamers are going to become millionaires at this tournament.
With prize pools that large, the seriousness of training for tournaments can’t be understated. The players that take home the big bucks train for it full-time, year-round with almost no breaks. Typically, these aren’t solo competitors. They are guys that have earned spots on teams that pay salaries, and require several hours a day of team practice.
Unsurprisingly, Chinese teams tend to do very well because they take training to an extreme level unseen by other nationalities. Chinese teams live under one roof, and train every day in the same room. Competing with the Chinese teams for American players is difficult due to the time zone differences. The most competitive games are happening in the early morning hours in the U.S., and players that have to contend with other responsibilities like work or school are at a HUGE disadvantage.
Like other new “sports”, competitive video game playing is offering a sustainable income to only the highest echelon of players. However, that group is growing steadily and more and more teams are forming to compete in tournaments.
Like any sport, marketing is a necessary part of the life of an aspiring pro gamer. This is where Twitch comes in. This leading social video platform for gamers has an astonishing 100 million users, 1.7 million of which are broadcasting their gameplay for others to see.
For a pro gamer, playing nightly on Twitch is a critical to making a name for themselves. Having viewers on the platform is a way to engage with fans, as well as make additional income streams. There are some Twitch streamers that don’t play in professional tournaments, and broadcast purely to entertain their fans. Right now, the colorful character “syndicate” is the most popular Twitch streamer. He keeps his fans engaged through a constant, manic stream of commentary while he blasts away zombies in Call of Duty. We'd like to see if shoving a BoomBoom up his nose would enhance his performance? We're thinking YES!
It’s a crazy world we live in where human beings are making a living playing digital games when not too long ago they had to hunt and gather just to survive. It’s a good time to be alive! If you’re an aspiring pro gamer, just make sure to have a backup plan in case playing video games 16 hours a day doesn’t lead to fortune and fame. But by all means, give it a shot...what’s the worst that could happen: you’ll get carpal tunnel syndrome?